Security Encyclopedia

Vehicle Authentication

Vehicle authentication is a process enabling a person to gain access to a connected auto or smart car. This process assumes that the device is an Internet-connected auto and not a legacy analog vehicle.

With the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), vehicle authentication may also refer to vehicles authenticating themselves (M2M) to other devices such as roadside kiosks, toll authority resources, gasoline pumps, and restaurant drive-thru collections.

When authenticating to the vehicle, like any online resource a driver or passenger would present one or a combination of authentication factors such as knowledge, possession, or inherence. Access of this kind can be facilitated via a password-based or passwordless architecture, however IoT adoption is heavily reliant on seamless experiences. This points to password-based systems being unfeasible for the use case.

Other ways solutions can be architected include transforming the device into a standalone validation server to more directly close the loop between car and drive, instead of to the automaker/automotive service first, and by selecting from among communication protocols over which the authentication occurs (e.g. data, BLE, NFC).


"The world's top automakers are implementing smart car access systems such as True Keyless Authentication. Vehicle authentication that provides drivers a seamless user experience, is realistic from a hardware and connectivity standpoint, and is secure is what is going to work in the long run."